R: Dos Palos are Ed Begley and myself (Robin Lee)
Your excellent new release ‘Lady of the Westway // I’ve Been Around’ on NuNorthern Soul Records sounds like all the best bits of American Rock combined with a Balearic feel for today. Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks?
R: Very kind and generous of you to say. You are right. All of those amazing rock bands from the USA have always been a big part of my listening experience whilst I was growing up. I’ve been used to working with Faze Action in the dance music area for a long time and although we did dabble in west coast psychedelic soul for our third album, entitled “Broad Souls”, people tend to associate Faze Action with disco. Which is good because I love disco too. But with Dos Palos, it’s good to be involved with something that isn’t so obviously dance orientated. With “Lady of the Westway”, I had been experimenting with song writing and ways to get the whole song writing ball rolling. I used to start with the music and then write the lyrics and melody, but I always found that it was easy to get a basic track going, but difficult to get the words and melody to work well with what I had started. So I decided to try it the other way around. I used the ‘cello to make some simple percussion sounds and worked the lyrics and melody to that. Without any other music getting in the way, I found it a lot easier to concentrate on the vocal. Once the vocal was written it was easier to build a room for it to exist in without getting in its way. I used a modular Moog for the bass sequence, classic Rhodes piano and ‘cello for the rest of arrangement. The idea was to use as few instruments as possible, so as to not get in the way of the vocal. That is when Ed came down to the studio to put his own personality and character to the record. Ed is amazing. He can match the speed of his vibrato to the BPM of the track, as well as other rather amazing vocal details, or not, depending on what you want to do.
released: November 10 http://www.juno.co.uk/products/dos-palos-lady-of-the-westway/551629-01/
Tell us about some of the influences that inspired you in the making of the single?
R: I think that the whole project is heavily inspired by The Eagles, The Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young from the west coast vocal harmony side of things. Shuggie Otis, Ace, The Isley Brothers, Jan Hammer Group as well as ‘cello producing supremo Arthur Russell for general inspiration. I get a lot of ideas from producing Faze Action records. Sometimes I want to explore further and Dos Palos gives me the perfect opportunity to do exactly that.
How did your relationship with NuNorthern Soul Records come about?
R: I think I first met Phil Cooper on the beach at The Garden Festival, Croatia, about 6 or 7 years ago. He seemed like a fun chap to hang out with and we did sink a few drinks and generally bowl around having a good time. I kept bumping into him at various events. Greg Wilson at the old East Village, where Stuart Patterson was curating, is one that comes to mind. Anyway, we both like a wide variety of music and I suppose we sort of gravitated to each other. One day Phil emailed me out of the blue and asked if I had anything that might work on his NuNorthern Soul label. I had these demos, and promptly sent them over to him. In short, he asked and I just happened to have something to play to him.
R: I think Phil is probably in a better position to give you the full story of the artwork. Generally, we all liked the imagery that might be associated with west coast bikers. Easy Rider and such like. There is a sort of underlying sense of adventure and freedom that is very attractive to us.
P: Having heard the music and the name from Robin it was clear in my mind this was a Merry Pranksters meets Easy Rider sound and that should be reflected in the artwork. Our in-house designer at NuNorthern Soul, Mr Vincent got it immediately and pretty well nailed it on his first designs…
How do you feel Dance music has evolved compared with when you first stared out, and do you think it’s in a positive place via the digital world?
R: Dance music is way easier to make these days than it used to be. Technology has given everyone the chance to express themselves. So there are an awful lot of people vying for position and trying to get heard. The overwhelming majority of established DJs and producers are finding it harder to be heard and often talk about being swamped by the white noise of digital releases. But, dance music is a positive thing. It has to be. People have been getting together and dancing ever since time began. There isn’t a culture on earth that doesn’t have some form of social dance gathering. There is plenty of dance music to fuel that need and also plenty of places and events where that need can be met. Things have changed a lot over the years. People aren’t doing as well financially as they used to, because there is less money to be made in the digital realm. At the end of the day though, a great event that brings people together is going to be far more rewarding.
The music has a very organic feel to it. Any plans to play it out live, or for recording an album?
R: Yes. I love the whole live experience and we are looking forward to taking the whole project out on the road. We are also writing a Dos Palos album as we speak and hope to get that finished early next year.